The Importance of Nutrition for Mental Health

The poor quality of the Western diet is believed to be a contributing factor in the development and severity of mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. These conditions are often treated with prescriptions. Although ample evidence supports the link between nutrition and mental health, the potential benefits of nutritional therapy are usually overlooked. Increasing dietary nutrients can help keep the brain healthy and chemically stable. Fortunately, the foods that boost brain health are readily available.

Among the most important nutrients for mental health are the omega-3 fatty acids. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is especially relevant—DHA deficiency is common in the mentally ill. It is found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines. Vegetarian sources include flaxseed, leafy greens and nuts. Meat, eggs, milk and poultry contain important amino acids such as tryptophan, taurine and tyrosine, which are essential for chemical balance in the brain.

One of the biggest flaws in the Western diet is inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. Raw produce is the best choice for nutritional value. It contains the highest amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The antioxidants found in berries, mangoes, pomegranates, plums, kale, spinach, peppers, Brussels sprouts and beets not only support general mental health but can also help to prevent or delay dementia in the elderly. Magnesium deficiencies are common in depression—spinach, broccoli and almonds are good magnesium sources.

If you’re not sure where to start, an experienced nutritionist in Indianapolis can help you design a food plan that keeps both your mind and body in top shape. The Spahr Center takes an integrated approach to improving your well-being. As a holistic health center in Indiana, we offer medical and nutritional support, acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, fitness and life coaching.

Whether the Spahr treatment team is optimizing a diet plan, teaching stress management or providing bioidentical hormones, all Indianapolis patients enjoy a personalized, carefully structured program designed to help them live the healthiest life possible.